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review 2017-07-25 16:45
Review: The Complete Persoplis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis I & II - Marjane Satrapi

I needed to fill in the "book about/by an immigrant or refugee" prompt on the Pop Sugar challenge, so I picked up the combined version of Persepolis I and II. I have been meaning to read this for a long time, but just never got around to it. I am so glad I made the time to read it this weekend - although it is a memoir of coming of age in Iran, it also reads as a history lesson about a part of the world that is often used by political foes inside and outside the country but is little understood.

 

Satrapi starts the first volume talking about the demonstrations and protests against the Shah. Her parents were educated upper/middle-class and politically active. Surprisingly, they and their friends would have interesting cultural and political discussions in front of, and involved, Marjane (who was maybe 8 or 9 at the time). Marjane asked a lot of questions in this early section so that the reader can understand this chaotic time. Her parents don't allow her to publicly protest with them, but she does find her way to a couple of protests, one that turned violent. Then the Shah was removed and the Islamic Revolution came about, with the in-between time a time of hope but also of uncertainty. Her parents were now protesting the Revolution, so home was for the most part a safe haven. That safe haven was put to the test often by the arrival of the Iran-Iraq war. After a few years and countless bombings, Marjane's parents send her to Austria to finish schooling and stay safe. Man, I hope history teachers use this first volume to teach what happened. There was even a mention of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

 

Life in Austria as a war refugee was tough for Marjane. This part of the book dragged a lot; suffice to say, without her parents intelligence or thought provoking discussions, Marjane drifted a lot. She basically did a shit ton of drugs (pot, LSD mostly) and lusted/loved after men who were assholes. She moved from flat to flat, met a lot of white people who were pretty shallow or hypocrites. Luckily, her drug addiction (her words, not mine) did not prevent her from finishing school with decent grades (she kept her drug taking to the weekends).  Finally after having a mental break down, she went home to Iran.

 

But Iran was not the same after additional years of war. She made it back in time for the cease-fire/truce, but Iran was not the same. The Revolution was still in power, but it was the war that gave them real power and it is why they wanted to keep the war going. The black market was pretty much the only infrastructure intact and running efficiently. Marjane became politically aware again thanks to her parents' influence, but she drifted again without any goals of her own. Her parents wanted her to go on to university, which she did after meeting her long term boyfriend. Her art and her politics evolved into a mature but still fiercely democratic work. However, she chafed under the Islamic rule pertaining to relationships and ended up married to her boyfriend. The marriage was a disaster from the first day, but a new development gave her much more to work with: the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the beginning of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. She goes into detail about why and how the Iranians did not care at all for the Kuwaiti refugees or the region's stability in general. This was a whole new side of the war to me and kept me very interested in those last pages. Her shitty marriage ended and she left Iran for good, moving to France to study and work on her art more.

 

There is a deep connection with Iranian culture and heritage as well as with family. In particular, there was a constant sharing of history and future hopes stemming from her grandmother and mother to Marjane. None of Marjane's family talked down to her or made her feel stupid for asking questions about politics or culture. She knew martyrdom and political executions intimately because they happened to her family and friends. She is proud of her family and to call herself an Iranian, but does not blindly give loyalty to a government that she feels is evil.

 

I want a copy for my personal library now.

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review 2017-07-25 15:54
Review: The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan and Robert Venditti
The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two, The Son of Neptune: The Graphic Novel - Rick Riordan,Antoine Dode,Orpheus Collar,Robert Venditti

This was a graphic novel adaption of Riordan's popular series. I didn't have much interest in reading the series, but I needed a book about/use of mythology for Pop Sugar. So I figured the quickest way of knocking out the prompt was to go with the graphic novel adaption. I'm so glad I did; in graphic novel form I was very invested in the story, as it was all action a bit of political intrigue that I would not have picked up in novel form.

 

The artwork was technically beautiful and well done, but not emotionally drawing me in. It was the story itself that kept me turning the pages. Although this is a story of how Percy Jackson regains his memory (sssslllloooowwwlllyyy) and unite the seven, I was way more interested in Frank Zhang. OMG, I was so #teamFrank throughout my reading. Frank and his mom's memory. Frank and Ares/Mars father-son conversations. Frank and his Grandma. Frank and Hazel's friendship. Frank and Percy's working relationship. Frank was the clear winner of this story for me.

 

My library does have graphic novel #1 and #3, so I may decided to read those in the fall, mainly for more Frank.

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review 2017-07-22 14:04
Thor, Vol. 1 !!!
Thor, Vol. 1 - Coipel Olivier,J. Michael Straczynski

In the movies, Thor is one of my favorite people. So when I saw this volume on Prime Reading. I HAD TO HAVE IT.

 

I loved this way more than I expected. Seriously, it was so good. I loved the stories, every one of them, I just love the characters. I wanted some Sif. I LOVE SIF. But even though she wasn't around, she got mentioned lots and that gave me all the feels. Ooops.

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review 2017-07-18 14:10
Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories
Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories - Gary Gianni,Gary Gianni

Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories was a real treat! I knew nothing about what to expect from this volume, (knowing nothing about the Hellboy series, in which these comics were originally released), so I went in with no preconceptions. I was seriously impressed. Here's why:

 

First, I LOVED the stories! The first 2/3 of this are different comics featuring a movie director named St. Lawrence, (who looks a lot like Vincent Price, BTW, and who you would think belonged in the 30's expect for the occasional glimpse of technology), and his friend Benedict a member of the Corpus Monstrum guild. Benedict is an immortal knight and always wears his knight helmet and a tuxedo. (I need to learn more about the background of this character because he was a blast to read about.) Together they fend off plagues of falling skulls, and other monstrous creatures.

 

 

 

 

Second, the last third of the book contains illustrated classic stories by the likes of Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and William Hope Hodgson. I LOVED these! When reading these short stories, I couldn't help but notice how the first 2/3 of the book carried the exact same pulpy, adventure feel that these classic stories originally created. I think Gianni did a beautiful job of carrying on that feel in his comics and in his illustrations of these pulp shorts. In a way, I feel like these were his way of paying tribute to what came before, while also making them his own.

 

Again, I went into this with no preconceptions. I came away with much admiration and respect. I'm going to eventually read the Hellboy comics and I'm definitely going to search out Mr. Gianni and see what else he has on offer, because whatever it is, I'm in!

 

Highly recommended, especially to fans of the classic pulp short stories and to fans of incredible artwork.

 

You can get your copy here: Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories

 

*Thank you to Edelweiss and to Dark Horse Comics for the e-ARC of this volume in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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text 2017-07-17 17:15
Comic Book Post
Wonder Woman FCBD 2017 Special Edition (2017-) #1 (Wonder Woman (2016-)) - Greg Rucka,Jr., Romulo Fajardo,Nicola Scott
Batman: The Gotham Adventures - Ty Templeton,Rick Burchett,Terry Beatty
Red Sonja #0 (Dynamite Entertainment Comics) - Michael Avon Oeming,Mike Carey,Mel Rubi

Over the last month I have read several comic books/graphic novels that have been offered for free for kindle or on Comixology.  Here’s a some of the highlights.

Overwatch Series – This comic series, offered for free, is based on the video game of the same name.  It is a game I haven’t played.  The comic series, spanning ten issues, is pretty damn good.  There are quite a few woman characters, several of whom are women of color.  The series also covers several morality questions – what is good, just, right.  The series also uses characters who are older.  The artwork is pretty good as well.  While eight of the issues are basically character studies with action, the last two issues deal with Halloween and Christmas, and so are somewhat a guest star list type of story.  Familiarity is with the video game is not needed to read these, though they should be read in order.  This is because a character in one is the mother of the central character in the following issue.  While the series does offer a must know cliffhanger, it is resolved in the ten issues.

 

Various Batman Comics -  Overall the Batman comics were what you would expect from Batman, and yet, they were in some ways the most disappointing.  The Rebirth first issue was good, though perhaps straining at the very loose sense of reality that holds things together.  The sequence involving passengers on a plane was, in particular, really great.  Neil Gaiman’s Batman in Black and White was clever, if not as clever as it thinks it is.  But the taste of Batman was soured by two freebies, the 10c Adventure and Gotham Adventures. 

                Batman and the Ten Cent Adventure is not as bad as Gotham Adventures.  The basic set up is that Bruce Wayne is framed for a murder.  The story is told from the viewpoint of his bodyguard.  A young woman who reminds a bit of Black Canary.  She was Wayne’s bodyguard until she discovered his identity as Brue Wayne and then she became is crime fighting partner, just don’t call her Robin.  Her voice tells the story so we get very much of Wayne worship and of course, she is in love with him, though he doesn’t know it.  And poor Bruce had to break up with his true love which he does by inviting her to his mansion so she can walk in on him when he is with some other women.  Of course, then he stalks her when he is Batman because that is so romantic. 

                You see my problem. 

                Gotham Adventures is worse, even though it features the extended Bat family.  That comic opens with Batman, Robin, and Batgirl chasing the Joker.  Robin gets delegated to help some woman, and I am not really sure what Batgirl does because she doesn’t have anything to do with Batman catching the Joker.  The Bat group take Joker back to the Batcave because there is a bounty on Joker’s head.  Nightwing shows up and gets a few lines.  Finally, after several pages, Batgirl actually gets to speak.  Everyman had lines, mostly several, before Batwing gets even one.  She is left to guard the Joker, who of course knocks her out.  If it was Alfred getting the drop on the Joker the shit would have hit the fan.  While she is knocked out, the Bat men are all doing heroic things.   So, one woman, who can’t even guard a prisoner who is handcuffed.  It’s a shame really because it is leaves a sour taste in the mouth, and stops what would have been a pretty fun comic read from being so.

 

Various Wonder Woman Comics – So these include Wonder Woman Rebirth (FCBD editions and #1 itself) as well as DC Super Hero Girls.  The Rebirth issues are very interesting and good.  And guess what, one of the FCBD editions has two men talking about a woman and her relationship to one of them.  That is just awesome.  Really awesome.  In particular, what I enjoyed about the Rebirth idea was the concept of storytelling and retconning which WW’s Rebirth storyline seems to directly tackle.  This is wonderful because all the multiple origin stories get a tad confusing.   

                There was also an older Wonder Woman, apparently after Crisis of Infinite Worlds.  This is interesting because Diana Prince is no longer Wonder Woman, at least in name, though the villains still see her as such.  Which shows you that villains know better.  And this raises a question.  I have not read mainstream comics for several years.  But I do know that have been quite a few times when Diana Prince has lost the title of Wonder Woman (once to her mother).  I know that in the last few year, Marvel’s Thor lost his hammer to a woman, and Iron Man is, wonderfully, a young black woman but my question is this -  do any male super heroes lose their status or title as much or more as Wonder Woman has?  Why Wonder Woman?  I’m not trying to be snarky, I am legitimately curious.  How does this break down?  Anyone know?

                The Super Hero girl comics are cute, and intended it seems for a younger audience.  The two I read where actually the same story, one just longer than the other.  The story concerns summer break where Wonder Woman and Bumble Bee go to Mount Olympus.  The cast is multi-ethnic, though a bit strange – why Poison Ivy – but the series does show the girls working together and being there for each other.  Though, why Batgirl sightsees as Batgirl I don’t know.

 

There were some surprises in this comic freebie read – Red Sonja 0, written by Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Curry was actually quite good, despite the   costume that makes no sense and seems to have a magical power to stay still and not show X-rated bits.  Red Sonja Vol 4, #0 was not as good, in fact it was just annoying, with more teasing of body parts.  Damsels: Mermaids was also quite good and a wonderful take on Andersen’s Little Mermaid.  Honesty, this might just be my favorite version.

 

Of course, not much has changed in comics.  Women, in particular the heroes, are usually drawn with Triple DDD bust sizes and a middle that couldn’t house a liver or intestine.  The men are buff too, let’s be honest, but they at least have some room for internal organs.  This is particularly distracting in Grimm Comics because the story telling is good there, but the female characters so sexualized that it is nerve wracking.  The explanation seems to be Neverland, a spin off, because the Wendy character was actually dressed.  The Godstorm spin off was good too  - Zeus mediating on fatherhood was really great.

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